Search engine optimization and public relations are complementary strategies. Building your search visibility can help you achieve greater PR results, and greater PR results can help you rise in search engine rankings.
The question is, are these strategies merely complementary—or are they somewhat codependent? In other words, are PR and SEO integral components to each other?
How SEO facilitates a better PR strategy
Let’s begin our discussion by looking at how SEO facilitates a better PR strategy. In other words, how does a strong SEO strategy provide support to your PR strategy?
Brand awareness/name recognition
For starters, a strong SEO campaign should carry the incidental benefit of increasing your brand awareness and brand name recognition. When executed properly, your company’s website and various pages within it should rank highly for keyword terms associated with your industry. You should also have authors and articles on various external publications—so even people who have never visited your website may have heard of you. This makes it much easier to make a big impact when you submit a press release, post on social media, or engage in other PR tactics.
Organic traffic for new posts
One of the most important objectives in an SEO strategy is increasing organic traffic. This is valuable for PR in a few different ways. First, you’ll have a broader audience of people who are familiar with your brand and consistently engaged with it, making your materials immediately more impactful. Second, you’ll have a loyal audience to whom you can build your PR strategy directly. Third, the combination of SEO and PR can have a multiplicative effect on your total inbound traffic, ultimately allowing you to generate much more traffic than either strategy could alone.
Consumer trust and credibility
A big part of SEO is developing thoughtful, original content that’s genuinely helpful for users. If you establish your brand as a veritable thought leader in your industry, and you consistently publish content that readers find valuable, your customers are going to trust you and find you credible. This is going to make all your future PR efforts inherently more trustworthy and accepted, which is especially important if you’re mitigating a PR crisis or announcing something huge.
Access to offsite publishers
The link building component of SEO practically requires you to build and maintain good relationships with offsite publishers, and usually across a variety of niches and topics. Whenever it’s time for you to submit a new press release or use external outlets to publicize your PR materials, you can tap into these relationships for convenience.
Objective data to review
Practicing SEO also gives you objective data to review. How do people respond to various onsite blog posts you’ve written? Which publishers seem to attract the most attention for your brand? You can use the information you gather here to direct your PR strategy and ultimately make it more effective.
PR potential in isolation
With that said, is it possible to practice a PR strategy without any attention on SEO whatsoever?
In some ways, this is impossible. The mere act of practicing PR in today’s digital environment is going to provide you with at least some incidental SEO benefits. Earning links, getting published in offsite publishers, and even generating more relevant traffic to your website can all positively affect your organic search rankings.
Technicalities aside, it is truly possible to practice PR without having a dedicated SEO team focused on increasing your organic search rankings. You just won’t see the same level of results.
If you want to make your PR strategy as impactful and effective as possible, you might as well consider SEO to be a prerequisite.
Hearing that, you might be frustrated or disappointed, since SEO can be both time consuming and expensive. However, it’s possible to practice SEO in an incidental, passive, and less demanding way.
- Quality onsite content: Developing high-quality onsite content is one of the most important pieces of a good SEO campaign. If you’re trying to build awareness, trust, and credibility for your brand, you’ll probably be developing this content anyway.
- Technical improvements: Good SEO also requires technical improvements to your website, optimizing for mobile experience, site performance, and overall user experience. Again, there are plenty of non-SEO reasons to support these efforts.
- Authoritative offsite links: Link building is critical for SEO, since it’s one of the only ways to reliably build your authority. This is most commonly practiced by publishing quality articles on external publishers—which is a viable PR tactic as well.
The best PR strategies are effectively complemented by SEO strategies. While it’s certainly possible to practice PR without SEO, and vice versa, the synergistic potential of these two strategies is too great to ignore.